The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a number of complaints brought against Domain Registry of America (DROA).
In a recent ruling the UK regulator’s decision includes responses from DROA and is worth reading.
The complaint centred around three complaints:
Three recipients believed the mailing was misleading because it appeared to be a bill requiring payment and implied they had transferred a domain name registration when they had not.
No surprise there.
Their reply, however, should raise a few eyebrows:
Domain Renewal Group (DRG) said their mailing was intended to notify recipients that their domain name was about to expire and, because of deregulation in the Domain Name industry, consumers had a choice of registrars with whom to renew or register a domain name. They said their mailing did not claim that the recipient’s domain name had been transferred to DRG or that payment was due without agreeing to move to their company. They believed this was clear from the claims “Domain name holders are not obligated to renew their domain name with their current Registrar or with the Domain Renewal Group”, “Review our prices and decide for yourself. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below, unless you accept this offer” and “This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to switch your domain name registration to the Domain Renewal Group”.
The ASA didn’t believe their explanation:
The ASA noted the mailing was headed “Domain Name Expiration Notice” and closely resembled a bill, including a credit card payment slip, and considered recipients were likely to infer that their domain name had been transferred to DRG and a renewal payment was now required. We noted the mailing stated “This notice is not a bill …”, “You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below …” and “… now is the time to transfer and renew your name from your current Registrar to the Domain renewal Group …”, but did not consider it was sufficient to remove the overall impression that the mailing was a genuine bill requiring payment. We concluded that the mailing was misleading for falsely implying that recipients had already transferred their domain name to DRG and for not making sufficiently clear that it was a marketing communication
What does this mean for DROA?Unfortunately very little, as the ASA does not have a huge amount of power, nor does its counterpart in any other country, at least not to my knowledge.